11/4/09
8:47 am

MacMost Now 314: Web Language Translation

Find out how you can use the Web to translate pieces of text or whole Web pages. Learn how to use the two main translation services: Babel Fish and Google Translate.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode,let's learn how to use the web to translate text and webpages. Sure the ability to translate text that you find on webpages and that you get in e-mail has been around on the web for a while, but it's gotten better and better and a couple of websites have emerged as the best ones. Let's go and take a look at both of those- one is Yahoo and the other is Google- and see how well they do. So here's a Spanish news site, and here's an article I want to read and I want to translate it. So one of the first things I want to do i copy just the text I want to translate- gonna select it and press copy. Then I'm going to go to one of the two websites here, the first one being Yahoo. It's actually babelfish.yahoo.com. Now babelfish has a long and interesting history- it started out as its own site as part of AltaVista, which was a search engine that existed before Google, later became part of Overture, and then that was all bought by Yahoo, and it's now Yahoo's translation site. So you go to babelfish.yahoo.com, or it'll redirect you if you go to translate.yahoo.com, and you can paste any block of text- go to paste in that text here- and select the languages. I'm going to select from Spanish to English and hit translate. On the next page I'm going to get a translation right here of what the text says. It translates pretty well. I can get an idea of what it's saying even though I know it's not grammatically correct. Now I can also go ahead and go to the webpage and copy the URL and then go into Yahoo's babelfish and enter the URL here and again pick the language I want to translate from and to - Spanish to English- and hit translate. And what I'll get is a version of the entire webpage, but with all the text translated into English. And here I go. I've got the entire article now translated, you can see it's exactly the same translation for the first part as I had before, but now I have the entire article. Now let's go ahead and do it again, this time using Google's translate site. I'll copy this first paragraph and I'm going to go to translate.google.com, I'm going to paste in the text, select Spanish to English, and hit translate. I'm going to get text here and in this case it ended up being a little bit better translation, still not perfectly grammatically correct, but in both cases I can tell what the paragraph is trying to say. Now let's try the entire page. I'm going to go ahead and copy the URL, and paste it here. I past it in the same area here and it knows that this is a URL to be translated, not text, and I make sure it says Spanish to English, and I hit translate. And here I've got it, you can see it translates the first paragraph the same way. One of the interesting things Google does is I roll over some of the text, it will actually show me some of the original Spanish text there in a box. In addition to that, I can even click and contribute a better translation than the one provided. So if I'm someone that wants to make sure this is translated better, or perhaps this is my article in my site, I can go ahead and type in my own translation there, and then that will show up for other people that want to translate this article. So one of the funny things that you can do with these translation tools is create gibberish by translating something back and forth. So for instance I can take this first paragraph here at the MacMost site, go into babelfish, select to translate it say to French, and it will create the translation for me. Then I can go ahead, copy the French translation, go back, paste it in here, and now translate from French to English. So you can see there really is something lost in the translation here, when you try to read it back. I find these translation tools are useful when trying to read a news article that's in another site, or perhaps a blog post or forum comment that's put in another language. It's also useful when you get an occasional email from somebody that isn't writing to you in English and you want to know what they're talking about. Sometimes you still have to write them for clarification, but at least you can get the general idea of what they're asking. Now I found that Google has a lot more languages available than Yahoo's babelfish, but for the major languages it seems like both of them have fairly decent translations, at least for computer translations that is. So I hope you find this useful. Till next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.